Alvin Ailey, a dancer born in 1931, founded what is known today as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Born in Texas, Ailey faced intense racism and discrimination growing up. As a result he strove to created a multi-racial company where dancers were judged upon ability and not their race or background. This was groundbreaking since at the time racism led to limited opportunities for African American dancers. At 22 Ailey joined the Horton dance company where he would eventually become the artistic director after Horton’s passing. Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Popularizing modern dance, Ailey became known throughout the world as he traveled internationally with his dance company. Emphasizing the theatricality of dance, Ailey utilized intricate costumes, stunning lighting displays and makeup in his performances. The style of Ailey’s choreography incorporates aligned ballet legs with a more loose, “modern” torso. Ailey choreographed 79 pieces for the company before his death in December of 1989, one of the most acclaimed being Revelations. Revelations was created by Ailey in 1960 and brought fame to the company. The highly acclaimed piece is still preformed today by the company’s dancers. Ailey died of AIDS in 1989 after choreographing countless pieces for his own company and others such as the American Ballet Theater.
Revelations is a contemporary style dance that tells the story of African-American faith and tenacity from slavery to freedom through a suite of dances set to spirituals and blues music.This choreographic work was first performed in New York City on January 31,1960 at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and later recognized to be a signature piece for the theater. Alvin Ailey is the original choreographer of the masterpiece titled “Revelations” and also the founder of the dance theater where the piece Revelations is mainly showcased, Ailey was an African-American born January 5,1931 in Rogers, TX , only 29 when he decided to develop this dance piece. There was a time where opportunities for male dancers like himself was severely limited, so that 's when he decided to establish his work, this dance performance was Ailey 's idea for African Americans to express their talents,cultural history, and experience and was also encouraged by his memories of living in the south and his understanding of human development.
As the first African-American to create a multicultural, international concert dance company, Alvin Ailey’s dance company has been dubbed the “cultural ambassador of the world” (Gorman 36). Through his Alvin Ailey Dance Company, he addressed the racism and injustice faced by ethnic minorities across the globe. Ailey clearly revolutionized African American participation in 20th century concert dance as well as revived interest in modern dance. As an extremely talented dancer and choreographer, Ailey’s success is attributed to his dedication and passion for expression through dance, but what is often overlooked is his resilience to the hardships he faced, the mentors he had, and the opportunities
After Lester Horton's death (Ailey's choreographer), Ailey became the director of Horton's dance studio, but in 1958, Ailey founded his own studio and named it, "The Alvin Ailey Dance Company." The purpose of this dance company is "to enrich American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of black cultural expression" (Willinger 1). The big break for Ailey's dance company was the dance Revalations. which people from all over loved. Since the start of the Dance Company "the Dance Theater has performed for and estimated 19,000,000 people in forty-eight countries and on six continents, earning the Company a reputation as one of the most popular international ambassadors of American Culture." ( Alvin Ailey Dance Company 7).
Even though dance first originated back in the 20th century when dancer Isadora Duncan broke away from the strict rules of ballet to create her own more natural form of dance. Through time and experimentation, many genres of dance has surfaced - whether from oppression or for theatrical purposes, each one has captured the eyes of it 's audience. From flashy, sequined clothes to light and flowy dresses; each form of dance has it 's own representation. As well as representation, each genre of dance has powerful emotion in it. These popular forms of dance can be classified into three categories: the pounding and rhythmic beats of Hip-hop, the powerful meanings of modern dance, and the wonderful elegance of ballet, the most thought-out.Everyone has watched in amazement as their high school dance
Isadora Duncan was considered a very important person in the history of dance. She revolutionized dance as a whole from her childhood onwards. Isadora was born on May 27, 1878 in San Francisco California, Where she also grew up, with her mother and three siblings. When Isadora was six, she and her sister Elizabeth began to teach children in their neighbourhood movements, this was the beginning of Isadora’s career as a dance teacher and is what began everything. As she grew older, the classes of children who she taught began to grow and become much larger as the years went on. At the age of 10 Isadora and her sister decided to leave school so they could make an income for their family with teaching. Isadora’s mother adored the arts as she
Merce Cunningham was known as a “leader of the American avant-garde whose constant innovation and artistic collaborations expanded the frontiers not only of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts”. His passion and drive to succeed and push boundaries of dance and technology helped him throughout his career and in the building of his own dance establishment, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He also worked closely with the composer John Cage, where together they created different, new music. He was one of the most daring choreographers of his time regarding the exploration of technology in dance. He had begun to look into dance film in the 70’s, and further started to choreograph new dances using a computer program named ‘Dance Forms’. He also further created a webcast series where the public were able to view his teaching in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and could essentially sit in on the rehearsals
New Dance is described as a developing art form; this dance was articulated in the early 20th century. According to Chapter 8 in History of Dance book, “the new dance emerged as a response to the ballet that populated the variety shows and music halls, which had a rigid formula of steps and poses” (Kassing). The New Dance was a product of several strands that interlaced together dancers’ studies and backgrounds; these strands and others were woven together in a historical, political, and societal framework. For instance, one strand of New Dance consisted of the concepts, techniques, costumes, and stage settings from around the world. These strands influenced major dancers and choreographers, such as, Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, Ruth St. Denis, and Ted Shawn.
The fine art of modern dance is like many other fields in that it is based on the actions and deeds of those who were pioneers in the field. These pioneers helped to mold modern dance into what it is today. Of the many people who are partially responsible for this accomplishment is Isadora Duncan. Duncan, often referred to as the “mother of modern dance,” inspired many other dancers to the extent that the art of dance would not be the same today without her many contributions.
Dance, like any other art form, is constantly evolving. Its roots are planted in every place in the world. America can thank several countries for creating what the dance industry is today. Since America is a melting pot, it has blended movements from all over the world. This country accepts all cultures and invites new art. Textbooks do not expand on the importance of dance, but it not only played a role in early American society, but todays as well.